The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Thursday finalised a stretch on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway to build the country’s first road runway for fighter jets.
The IAF has been in talks with the Uttar Pradesh state government from May, ever since it was decided that the expressway was the ideal place for a runway to come up where combat jets could take off or land in emergency situations. The Lucknow-Agra Expressway is the longest greenfield e-way coming up in India, and is expected to cost Rs 13,000 crore.
The IAF has asked the state to acquire more land on the sides of the highway, in order to install an air traffic controller (ATC), a taxi-way and a parking area.
“We will acquire more land along the sides of the 5km road runway and we will write to the ministry of defence to pay for it,” said Navneet Saigal, the chairman and chief executive officer of the expressway.
Air vice-marshal Rajesh Issar and squadron leader Keshab had met Saigal on Thursday and finalised the stretch.
This particular segment of the e-way was considered ideal as there are no dividers, flyovers or underpasses near it. It also won’t have any electricity poles, masts or mobile phone towers near it. The IAF will bear the cost for the project.
“The designers from the IAF have met with our engineers regarding the specifications for this stretch,” said Saigal. Many countries including China, Pakistan, Sweden, Germany and Singapore boast of road runways. These runways gain special importance during hostile situations, especially if airbases are crippled. In May, the IAF landed two Mirage 2000s in UP — one in Saifai village’s airstrip and one on the Yamuna Expressway.